Joseph, Patrick, and James Shields

The story of the Shields-Ethridge Farm begins at the close of the 18th century, a few years after the area was ceded by the Native population and opened to American settlement. In 1798, Joseph Shields and his son Patrick, recent arrivals from Virginia, purchased adjacent tracts of land in Jackson County. By 1802, they had… [Continue Reading]

Joseph Robert and William Shields

When James died in 1863 the farm was divided between William and Joseph Robert and each son constructed a new farmstead. The old homestead was located at a bend on Johnson Mill Road, about 300 yards from its junction with what is now Ethridge Road; William built his home place further north on Johnson Mill… [Continue Reading]

Ira and Susan Ella Ethridge

After the death of his wife in 1896, Joseph Robert invited Susan Ella, his youngest daughter, and her husband Ira Ethridge to come live with him, promising them ‘rations for one year’, free use of his land, and inheritance of the home place plus 114 acres upon his death. The arrival of Ira brought fresh… [Continue Reading]

Lanis and Joyce Ethridge

Ira died in 1945 and his son Lanis Ethridge inherited the farm. Lanis now faced the task of adapting his farm to a rapidly changing postwar world. Throughout the South, the tenant sharecropping system was disintegrating as croppers left the land and sought a better life in cities. This increased the pressure to mechanize cotton… [Continue Reading]